November / December 2023
Some Recent Releases
A few words about recent releases / reviews:
Apart from where they are included in articles on this website, I don't have a 'Reviews' section for a number of reasons:
I receive so many requests to review recordings it is impossible to include them all.
Unlike some publications/blogs, Sandy Brown Jazz is not a funded website and it is not possible to pay reviewers.
Reviews tend to be personal opinions, something a reviewer likes might not suit you, or vice versa.
It is difficult to capture music in words, so much better to be able to listen and see whether the music interests you.
For these reasons in particular I just include a selection of recent recordings below where I share the notes issued by the musician(s) as an introduction and links to samples so you can 'taste' the music for yourselves. For those who like to read reviews, these, of course, can be checked out on other sites.
Some albums are priced in dollars or other currencies. These are marked ^. There are currency options if you proceed to order. Recordings are now regularly available on different formats (CD, mp3 downloads, vinyl) or platforms e.g iTunes, Spotify, etc. I am unable to list them all so it is worth checking if you have a favourite platform).
Featured In December 2023
Benet McLean - Green Park
(Self Release) - Released: 24th November 2023
Benet McLean (violin); Duncan Eagles (tenor sax); Liam Dunachie (organ); Rio Kai (bass); Zoe Pascal (drums)
'Violinist and pianist Benet McLean is one of the most highly regarded contemporary musicians in British jazz. His musical depth and exploration of the boundaries between musical genres make him a unique and constantly evolving artist. Inspired in his teens by the great bebop artists of the 1940s, Benet's playing today reflects his early inspirations while also embracing many other musical influences. Previously known best for his outstanding piano playing, Benet has released several critically acclaimed albums on piano. However in recent years, he has returned to the violin, fast emerging as a dynamic and innovative jazz violinist. His highly anticipated debut solo album on violin, Green Park, is scheduled for release in November 2023. A gifted composer and arranger, live work with his own band focuses on violin-infused high-energy grooves interspersed with lyrical ballads, often augmented with pedals and effects, with exciting performances that showcase the breadth of his innovative violin style. Collaborations have included heading up the string quartet on Partikel’s acclaimed String Theory album and working on string sections with producer Troy Miller on albums by Laura Mvula and Mahalia. ....... Benet has been playing music since the age of 3 years old when he first persuaded his parents to buy him a violin, and he undertook several years of classical training before turning his attentions to jazz. ........Benet also teaches and is a professor of jazz violin at the London Performing Academy of Music (LPMAM).' (album notes)
Jasper Høiby Three Elements - Earthness
(Edition Records) - Released: 24th November 2023
Jasper Høiby (bass); Noah Stoneman (piano); Luca Caruso (drums)
'Jasper Høiby, a name synonymous with audacity, innovation, and a significant driving force behind the trailblazing Phronesis, is excited to announce his new piano trio "3 Elements” ..... Having made a resounding impression on the international jazz stage with his fêted trio Phronesis, Høiby now forms this fresh ensemble, melding the prodigious talents of Noah Stoneman on piano and Luca Caruso on drums. "3 Elements" offers a compelling, uncompromising, and robust sonic palette reminiscent of the groove-centric Phronesis, whilst being enriched by Høiby’s unmistakably charismatic bass sound. This ensemble not only provides an array of fresh tunes in but also revisits profound tracks like 'Earthness' from Planet B and 'Love Song' from Phronesis, peppered with explosive and abstract improvised interludes. For Høiby, the piano trio format has for long been a vital makeup of his being, "The piano trio is a space where all instruments shine, leading the music's direction. It's a unifying space, acting like one living organism where the energy of three people come together as one." ... As part of the "3 Elements" project, Høiby intends to record with different trio lineups, using this as a foundation for his new working trio. "... I'll announce the subsequent lineups as we progress," Høiby revealed.' (album notes)
Emma Johnson's Gravy Boat - Northern Flame
(Self Release) - Released: 3rd November 2023
Emma Johnson (saxophone & compositions); Fergus Vickers (electric guitar); Richard Jones (piano); Angus Milne (double bass); Steve Hanley (drums)
'Emma Johnson’s Gravy Boat return this Autumn for the release of their second album Northern Flame, a free-flowing, cinematic jazz record inspired by stories of the strength and resilience of Northern women past and present. Developed from a commission for Lancaster Jazz Festival 2022, Northern Flame ties together tales from the history of Lancashire about lighthouse keeper Janet Raby (in first track Force of Light) and local hospice founder Sister Aine Cox (in track 3, Sister) with wider themes of light and the feeling of home ...... Speaking about Northern Flame Johnson says: “I’m really happy with the process and feeling of the album as a whole. It was an incredible experience to be commissioned for the first time and have time to research and write from different stories and perspectives, and to go on from there to turn those songs into a full length album has been a new and invigorating way of working for me, and I feel like that comes across.” The theme of light ties together all the tracks on the album, from Janet Raby’s lighthouse beam shining in the darkness, to the more figurative idea of the light shared between Sister Aine Cox MBE and hospice patient Anne Charlesworth when all hope was lost, to the light you find left on for you when coming home late. In the current dark times, I think we all need a little more light.” (album notes).
Imogen Ryall - Sings The Charles Mingus / Joni Mitchell Songbook
(Rubicon Jazz Records) - Released: January 2023
Imogen Ryall (vocals); Julian Nicholas (tenor sax, soprano sax); David Beebee (piano); Nigel Thomas (bass); Eric Ford (drums, percussion)
'Mingus, the album by Joni Mitchell from 1975 is the result of a 45-minute meeting arranged by Mingus's wife between Mitchell, who was drifting towards a style of music jazzier than her previous output and Charles Mingus. Mingus was sadly waiting to die from motor neurons disease. Unable to play, he was bored, and his wife was keen to get him interested in something. Mingus sang the melodies into a tape recorder, chords were added by Sy Johnson, and Joni wrote the lyrics and organised the recording sessions. The band on the album were members of Weather Report. Mingus died before the project was complete. To ensure enough material was ready for the album, Joni added a song of her own, "Wolf". The album was cooly received by admirers of both musicians. The album now has a cult status, especially among younger jazz musicians. Among them, British singer Imogen Ryall considers Mingus the foundation stone and springboard of her career. "A door opener for me" is how Imogen describes the original album. Her album is an affectionate tribute to these two great musicians whose collaboration produced an enigmatic album that challenged the critics and listeners of the day. Imogen's album offers three views of Mingus - "Chair in the Sky" captures him at the end. Wasting away but retaining an unrepentant good humour. "God Must Be a Boogie Man" is Joni having fun with the concept. "Self Portrait in Three Colours", originally a through composed instrumental ballad, to which Imogen adds her own thoughtful and perceptive lyrics.' (album notes)
Simon Spillett Big Band - Dear Tubby H
(mister PC Records) - Released: 11th September 2023
Simon Spillett (musical director and solo tenor sax); Sammy Mayne, Pete Long, Alex Garnett, Simon Allen, Alan Barnes, (saxophones); Nathan Bray, George Hogg, Freddie Gavita, Steve Fishwick (trumpets); Jon Stokes, Mark Nightingale, Ian Bateman, Pete North (trombones); Rob Barron (piano); Alec Dankworth (bass); Pete Cater (drums)
The idea of this album - and this band - have been in my mind for thirty-odd years, since my late teens when, having begun to delve into the fascinating culture of 'bootleg' radio broadcasts, passed covertly between veteran jazz collectors, I discovered that there was so much more to the Tubby Hayes Big Band than the sixteen arrangements heard on their classic studio-recorded albums 'Tubbs' Tours' (1964) and '100% Proof' (1966). Although it existed sporadically over its thirteen or so year lifespan, Tubby's big band was a working outfit with a pad full of compositions and arrangements used on its live, radio and television performances. Many of these were heard only in person or luckily survive on tape owing to the efforts of enthusiastic home-tapers, including Tubby himself ...... So what to do with it? Over the next few years I occasionally played these charts as a guest soloist with various big bands across the UK, but what I really dreamed of was hearing it played by my own choice of players; a who's who of British jazz who, like Tubby's original band, would comprise a genuine 'jazz orchestra', full to the brim of improvising soloists, many respected bandleaders in their own right. ...and here it is, at last. Formed in 2020 but really coming until its own two years later with sold out gigs at jazz festivals and clubs up and down the country, this is a band of genuine world class ranking, one I'm incredibly proud to present in public and now, finally, on record playing music that I've long felt deserved a more appropriate fate than obscurity....' (Simon Spillett)
Get The Blessing - Pallett
(All Is Yes Records) - Released: 20th October 2023
Jake McMurchie (saxophone); Pete Judge (trumpet); Jim Barr (bass); Clive Deamer (drums)
'Been a while, eh?! In fact, blessings seem to have been few and far between over the last few years, but we are delighted to be back in your inboxes and in your ears, to announce the release this autumn of our seventh studio album “Pallett”! "Pallett" (the title is, of course, the usual obtuse pun) grew from improvisations between Jake, Pete, and Jim during the lockdowns, which were then sent in a big jiffy bag to Clive, who added his drums at home in Oxfordshire. Our very good friend Adrian Utley hammered in a few final nails, and then the great Tim Allen mixed the results. We hope you enjoy its organic eco-paint mixture of hypnotic long-form minimalism, playful rhythms, and unusual textures. If in some ways it’s a more mature album, you’ll be glad to hear that we definitely still “play like children”, as one of our favourite reviews once put it. And we’d like to invite you too to access your inner child…Since an imaginary colour chart inspired the track titles, we thought you might enjoy colouring in your own copy of the paint-by-numbers album artwork, so limited edition vinyls will be supplied with wax crayons ....... (album notes)
Terence Collie - 384,400
(Self Release) - Released: 18th December 2023
Terence Collie (piano); Robert Manzin (tenor saxophone); Nick Lenner-Webster (bass); Ted Carrasco (drums)
In March 2023, Terence Collie said “I felt it was time to record a new album as my last album release was back in 2018. Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, the global crisis ignited a new approach to making music for me online and streaming. I have created a plethora of remote collaborations and also continue to stream and record monthly Mood Indigo Event concerts for my YouTube channel. I felt now would be a good time to do some thing different. A solo album recorded in just one evening session where I would set up, record both audio and video and see what happens. Some new original tunes, a few older ones and a few standards thrown in. The result was the well-received album Reminiscent. Now Terence releases a further album entitled 384,400 (the distance in kilometers to the moon). He says: “I wanted to keep the creative process rolling and compose and record some new material. The recording process would be very similar to that of the previous album, book the room, set up all the mics and recording equipment, record all the material in one session and no more than three takes per track. The only difference this time being four musicians playing and not just one! The result was five original compositions and two jazz standards.’ (album notes).
Aruán Ortiz- Pastor's Paradox
(Clean Feed Records) - Released: 10th October 2023
Aruán Ortiz (piano, voice); Don Byron (clarinet, bass clarinet, voice); Lester St Louis (cello #1,2,4,5,6); Pheeroan AkLaff (drums); Yves Dhar (cello #3,7); Mute Gant (spoken word #1,4,6).
' ....... 60 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his signature “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. The content, structure and power of King’s words serve as a fundamental inspiration for Pastor’s Paradox, the stirring new album by Cuban-born, Brooklyn-based pianist, composer and conceptualist Aruán Ortiz. Due October 20, 2023 on Clean Feed Records, the album features a stellar lineup of players including clarinetist Don Byron, cellists Lester St. Louis and Yves Dhar,drummer Pheeroan akLaff, and spoken word artist Mtume Gant. Pastor’s Paradox shares many of King’s themes, including racial equality, but also reflects Ortiz’s singular artistry. To write his enthralling suite, Ortiz studied King’s Biblical and world history references, the speech’s construction, and the pacing and vocal dynamics that give King’s words such power and momentum. “’I Have a Dream’ is one of the masterpieces in the history of speeches,” says Ortiz. “I studied that speech from different angles, particularly his use of analogies and how he integrated different aspects of literature into his message. It’s amazing when you analyze its structure.” In addition to studying the structure, analogies and literary references of the “I Have a Dream” speech, Ortiz delved into King’s 1968 speech “The Drum Major Instinct,” delivered five years after the March on Washington and two months before King’s assassination, as his pursuit of racial socio-economic justice became more radical and he spoke out against the Vietnam War ....... (album notes).
Drew Zaremba - Reunion
(Next Level Records) - Released: 10th November 2023
Drew Zaremba (saxophone, organ, composition, arrangements); Andrew Janak, Jared Cathey, Austin Cebulske, Alison Young (saxophones); Jake Boldman, Gabe Mervine, Dawn Kramer, Shawn Williams, Wayne Bergeron (trumpet); Zach Rich, Paul Mckee (trombone) Seth Weaver (trombone, vocals); John Matthews (bass trombone); Steve Kovalcheck (electric guitar); Dana Landry (piano); Erik Applegate (upright and electric bass); Jim White (drum set); Brian Claxton (percussion); Marion Powers (vocals).
'Drew Zaremba is saxophonist, organist, and rightfully lauded powerhouse of an arranger and composer. Drawing eclectic influence from icons of big band, heroes of classical music, and the luminaries of British Rock, Zaremba combines, concocts, and creates with a refreshing originality in the wildest of never-before-imagined manners. Reunion is an unequivocally celebratory big band debut rich with creativity at every turn. ....... Drew Zaremba is saxophonist, organist, and rightfully lauded powerhouse of an arranger and composer. Drawing eclectic influence from icons of big band, heroes of classical music, and the luminaries of British Rock, Zaremba combines, concocts, and creates with a refreshing originality in the wildest of never-before-imagined manners. Described as a musician who “writes and plays from his heart” and who “knows and speaks the language of music” (Eddie Gomez), Zaremba presents Reunion, an unequivocally celebratory big band debut rich with creativity at every turn, united first and foremost around the deep joy that permeates from every note he pens. ...... (album notes)
Gregory Porter - Christmas Wish
(Blue Note Records) - Released: 3rd November 2023
Gregory Porter (vocals); Tivon Pennicott (soprano sax, tenor sax, flute); Chip Crawford (piano); Ondre Pivec (organ); Gregoire Manel (harmonica); Jahmal Nichols (bass); Emmanuel Harrod (drums, percussion); Stephanie Fisher Alvarenga, Chris Ashley Anthony, Sheherazada Holman (backing vocals);plus orchestra.
'Gregory Porter, with his customary class, elegance and sophistication, presents his new holiday album ‘Christmas Wish’ – a cool yule selection of festive favourites as well as brand new songs written by the singer himself. Backed by his long-time band, produced by repeat collaborator Troy Miller in New York and London, with orchestral contributions recorded at Abbey Road, and featuring powerhouse guest vocalist, double Grammy-winning sensation Samara Joy, Gregory Porter’s seventh studio album is a loving tribute to his favourite time of year – and to great songwriters, singers and interpreters including Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Dinah Washington. Across its dozen tracks, ‘Christmas Wish’ encompasses the saintly and the secular, the funky and the fun, the Great American Songbook and the best of Motown. With ‘Christmas Wish’, Gregory Porter has given us a whole new soundtrack to this most wonderful time of year.' (album notes)
John Stein - No Goodbyes
(Whaling City Sound Records) - Released: 2023
John Stein (guitar); Ed Lucie (bass); Mike Connors (drums); Cindy Scott (vocals)
'Experience illuminates the path to clarity, and nowhere is this more evident than in No Goodbyes by guitarist John Stein. As his 18th recording and 13th for the renowned Whaling City Sound label, Stein, along with his exceptional trio partners Ed Lucie on bass guitar and Mike Connors on drums, showcases a transcendent musical experience. Building upon their previous collaboration on 2021’s Serendipity, the trio creates an enchanting collection of interactive, conversational, and expressive melodies. Adding a new dimension to this captivating journey, the talented vocalist Cindy Scott joins them on five tracks. With her insightful and sophisticated lyrics, Scott breathes life into Stein’s jazz compositions, transforming them into magnificent songs. The music on this album evokes a range of emotions, from powerful and delicate to playful and swinging. Drawing from their diverse musical backgrounds and life experiences, each contributor infuses the core grooves of every composition with depth and authenticity........ (album notes)
Europe and Elsewhere
Peggy Lee Band - A Giving Way
(Songlines Recordings) - Released: 19th June 2023
Peggy Lee (cello); John Bentley (saxophone); Brad Turner (trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet; Jeremy Berkman (trombone); Ron Samworth (electric and acoustic guitars); Tony Wilson (electric guitar); André Lachance (electric bass); Dylan Van Der Schyff (drums)
'Canadian cellist, improviser, and composer Peggy Lee boasts excellent credentials, having collaborated with spontaneous creatives such as Butch Morris, Wadada Leo Smith, Gordon Grdina, and Barry Guy. As a leader, she gained notoriety with her own octet, currently featuring two electric guitarists and a three-horn frontline. Following an 11-year hiatus, their sixth release, A Giving Way, is likely to attract new converts with eclectic music influenced by jazz, avant-garde, classical, Eastern music, and pop/rock. In a brief span, “It’s Simple” exhibits a poignant melody and folk ascendancy, but the group digs deeper on the polyrhythmic “Internal Structures”, the first standout moment of the album. The electric bass lines of André Lachance is the glue that holds everything together, while Lee’s cello provides textural consistency. The horn players - saxophonist John Bentley, trumpeter Brad Turner, and trombonist Jeremy Berkman - exude a contagious sense of bliss, while guitarists Ron Samworth and Tony Wilson opt for distortion-infested washes. The undercurrents might be disorienting but the uninhibited group, propelled by Lee’s husband, drummer Dylan Van Der Schyff, swings boldly, allowing for a captivating trumpet statement......... (Jazztrail)
Atlantic Road Trip - One
(Calligram Records) - Released: 4th November 2023
Paul Towndrow (alto saxophone, whistles, flute); Chad McCullopugh (trumpet, flugelhorn); Miro Herak (vibraphone); Conor Murray (double bass); Alyn Cosker (drums, bodhrán)
'One is the debut recording of the trans-continental collective Atlantic Road Trip. Chicago-based trumpeter Chad McCullough first met Slovakian vibraphonist Miro Herak in 2009 at the Banff Center for the Arts, a catalyst for creativity under the direction of trumpeter Dave Douglas. The two became great friends and frequent collaborators, touring throughout Belgium and Holland with numerous projects. Shortly before the pandemic they reached out to Scottish alto saxophonist Paul Towndrow, another longtime associate of Herak’s who is also heard here on traditional whistles and flute. Scottish drummer Alyn Cosker and Irish bassist Conor Murray complete the international ensemble. “We stayed in close contact throughout the pandemic and even remotely recorded a set for the 2021 Glasgow Jazz Festival,” remembers McCullough. The following year, Atlantic Road Trip toured the UK, Netherlands, and Belgium. Returning to Scotland in 2023, they managed to find the time in their busy touring schedule to record One. Collaboration is at the heart of One. “Musical projects and endeavours which are truly and successfully collaborative are hard to come by,” muses Towndrow. “You need to be on the same page as your co-conspirators, and if not, acceptance and compromise should feel as natural a part of the creative process as anything else. With Atlantic Road Trip, I feel that we’ve found that balance.” (album notes)
Sam Knight - Knight Life
(AMP Music and Records) - Released: 17th November 2023
Sam Knight (tenor saxophone); Seamus Blake (tenor saxophone #2); Giuseppe Pucciarelli (guitar); Aldo Capasso (upright bass); Marco Gagliano (drums)
'Saxophonist and composer Sam Knight presents his debut album, Knight Life, a fusion of instrumental jazz and captivating vocals. A graduate of Guildhall School of Music, Sam collaborates with esteemed European artists such as Maria Rehakova, Giuseppe Pucciarelli, Felix Rabin, Ester Wiesnerova, and Elephant Talk. Through these collaborations, Sam has embarked on international tours spanning the UK, Europe, and most recently, Mexico. His artistic contributions extend beyond playing the sax, encompassing roles in writing, production, and providing guidance on musical arrangements - recently serving as a co- producer for the soft-rock band The Goodbye Look. In addition, he records saxophone and vocals for international artists on a daily basis ..... The album serves as a reflection of a transitional stage in the artist's life. It eloquently captures moments of profound realisation, the acceptance of life's inherent realities, and the awakening of the soul's deepest yearnings. This artistic journey delves into the myriad facets of human existence, from grappling with mortality and lost years to navigating the intricate realms of creativity, depression, and stress. Amidst these themes, the album skilfully weaves a thread of optimism that illuminates a path toward a brighter and more grounded future. It's a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the boundless potential for growth and transformation that resides within us all .... (album notes)
Stacey Kent - Summer Me, Winter Me
(Naive Recordings) - Released: 10th November 2023
Stacey Kent (vocals); Jim Tomlinson (tenor sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet, guitar, percussion, keyboards); Art Hirahara, Graham Harvey (piano); Tom Hubbard, Jeremy Brown (bass); Anthony Pinciotti, Joshua Morrison (drums); Aurielle Chenille (first violin); Claire Chabert (second violin); Fabrice Planchat (viola); Gabriel Planchat (cello)
“‘Which album is that song on?’ is a question I often get asked after a concert at signings. Since our set lists invariably include a mixture of old and new repertoire, the answer is sometimes, ‘it’s not on any album.’ This album is therefore a collection of those songs. It’s a response to all those people who have said over the years, somewhat disappointed, ‘you haven’t recorded ‘If You Go Away’?’ and so on. “This is also the first time I’ve recorded a song twice on the same album. ‘If You Go Away’ entered my repertoire in 2018 when Jim wrote an orchestral arrangement for a concert in Paris. I was also singing Jacques Brel’s original, ‘Ne me quitte pas’, from time to time. But whatever the language, someone would ask why I hadn’t sung it in the other. Some singers have responded by interpolating both languages into the same version. Since both sets of lyrics are beautiful on their own terms and are equally deserving of inclusion, I chose to record them both. “So, whilst not exactly a requests album, Summer Me, Winter Me is a response to that informal and unscientific sounding, a representative selection of some of these ‘requests’.” - Stacey Kent (album notes).
Wes Montgomery and the Wynton Kelly Trio - Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings
(Resonance Records) - Released: 1st December 2023
Wes Montgomery (guitar); Wynton Kelly (piano); Jimmy Cobb (drums) and bass for various tracks: Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Larry Ridley, Herman Wright.
'Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings is the first official release of the complete previously unissued recordings from jazz guitar giant Wes Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio at the famed Half Note jazz club in New York City in 1965 with drummer Jimmy Cobb and bassists Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Herman Wright and Larry Ridley. Including over 2 hours from the original radio broadcasts with host Alan Grant, the deluxe 2-CD set is mastered by Matthew Lutthans and comes with a multi-page booklet containing previously unpublished photos taken at the Half Note by Raymond Ross; plus a new essay from acclaimed journalist and author Bill Milkowski; interviews with jazz legends Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter, who both recorded with Wes; guitar icons Bill Frisell and Mike Stern; plus bassist Marcus Miller, who is Wynton Kelly’s cousin! 2023 marks Wes Montgomery’s Centennial (born March 6, 1923), and this is Resonance’s 7th release of Wes Montgomery recordings in cooperation with the estate. Now Wes Montgomery fans can hear the rest of the music from the Half Note that was only broadcast on the radio nearly 60 years ago.' (album notes).
Bill Evans - Tales : Live In Copenhagen, 1964
(Elemental Music) - Released: 1st December 2023
Bill Evans (piano); Chuck Israels (bass); Larry Bunker (drums) : August 1964. Bille Evans (piano); Eddie Gomez (bass); Artie Morell (drums) : November 1964
'Tales is a set of never-before-released recordings of jazz piano icon Bill Evans, taped with excellent sound quality in the mid-60s. An official Elemental Music release in collaboration with the Bill Evans Estate, Tales is truly a ’holy grail’ discovery culled from the private collection of Danish jazz musician Ole Matthiessen and being released for the very first time. These 11 tracks are glorious; a gift for all of us to relish these many decades after Bill's physical departure from this earth. Tales is a wonderful document that captures the spirit, essence and beauty of what Evans was all about.' (album notes)
Johnny Griffin - Live At Ronnie Scott's 1964
(Gearbox Records) - Released: 10th November 2023
Johnny Griffin (tenor sax); Stan Tracey (piano); Malcolm Cecil (bass); Jackie Dougan (drums)
'This never-heard- before recording of the legendary tenor sax “Little Giant" Johnny Griffin playing at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and backed by members of Ronnie's House Band (Stan Tracey, Malcolm Cecil and Jackie Dougan) sees a AAA vinyl release. The album was mastered at Gearbox Records using an all-analogue signal chain and cut directly from the original tapes, which were recorded at the club by Les Tomkins in 1964. The sleeve features photography by the esteemed Val Wilmer and liner notes by Richard Williams.' (album notes)
Featured In November 2023
Tobie Medland - The Aviary
(Future Fable Records) - Released: 7th July 2023
Tobie Medland (violin); Sol Grimshaw (acoustic guitar); Bim Williams (electric guitar); Sam Leak (piano); Tom Smith (clarinet); Kit Massey (violin); Helen Sanders-Hewitt (viola); Shirley Smart (cello); Marcus Penrose (double bass)
'Originally founded as a quartet, violinist Tobie Medland’s ‘The Aviary’ grew to include several heavyweights of British Jazz following the success of their debut record ‘Apparitions’. Featuring Sam Leak on piano, Tom Smith on clarinet, and a string section of Kit Massey, Helen Sanders-Hewett and Shirley Smart, the ensemble’s new sound is rich, complex, and full of twists and turns. ‘The Aviary’ aims to transport the listener to a world overrun by fantastical species of birds. As well as representing the personalities and individual tales of these strange avians, it is also an exploration of the mystery of finding oneself in this world. .......... Rooted in a contemporary spin on gypsy jazz, the ensemble are influenced by 20th Century Classical composers Shostakovich, Debussy and Bartok as well as the likes of Joe Pass, Django Rheinhardt, and Joe Henderson. Juxtaposing atonality, free improvisation, and darkness with jovial melodies, driving swung grooves and bright harmony, their immersive world presents an undeniably fresh perspective on an underappreciated genre.....' (album notes)
Charlotte Keefe - Alive! in the studio
(Discus Music) - Released: 19th September 2023
Charlotte Keeffe (sound brush, trumpet, flugelhorn and compositions); Ashley John Long (double bass); Ben Handysides (drums); Moss Freed (guitar)
'For her second Discus Music release, Charlotte has convened her regular working quartet to explore open ended versions of her compositions which form the basis of their live set. Captured with energy and clarity in the studio, here we have 60 minutes of real group interaction where the music from each player is balanced equally within the total group sound. Charlotte writes: "Charlotte Keeffe’s Right Here, Right Now Quartet featuring Ashley John Long, Ben Handysides and Moss Freed, is a breeding ground for squelchy, sploshy, splashy Sound Brush playing - music-making! …Overtly over-blowing, splitting, splattering, squirming, squeaking and squealing out ALIVE! Howling and hooting, chomping and chaffing… Dusty, distorted, flimsy, fragile, manic, ghostly, guttural sound strokes rip through whirlwinds and whirlpools of wholesome gooey-sound-dough! A turbulent tease, staggering, swaying, abruptly plunging into intentional vagueness… A messy emporium of raw, raucous realness. Alive. Right Here, Right Now. It is as it is…" (album notes)
Yussef Dayes - Black Classical Music
(Brownswood Recordings) - Released: 8th September 2023
Yussef Dayes (drums); Charlie Stacey (keys/synths), Venna (saxophone), Alexander Bourt (percussion) and other guest musicians.
"What is jazz? Where did the word derive from? Birthed in New Orleans, born in the belly of the Mississippi River, rooted in the gumbo pot of the Caribbean, South American culture & African rituals. Continuing a lineage of Miles Davis, Rahssan Roland kirk, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong ~ music that is forever evolving & limitless in its potential. The groove, it’s feeling, the compositions, the spontaneity, with a love for family, the discipline & dedication in maintaining the very high bar set by the pantheon of Black Classical Musicians. Chasing the rhythm of drums that imitated one's heartbeat, the melodies for the mind and spirit, the bass for the core. A Regal sound for this body of music." “Black Classical Music” is Dayes 19 track debut solo studio album. At every turn, Dayes distinctive drum licks and Rocco Palladino’s bass are the sturdy anchors; aided by Charlie Stacey (keys/synths), Venna (saxophone), Alexander Bourt (percussion), and a whole host of honourable features including: Chronixx, Masego, Jamilah Barry, Tom Misch, Elijah Fox, Shabaka Hutchings, Miles James, Sheila Maurice Grey, Nathaniel Cross, Theon Cross and the Chineke! Orchestra, the first professional orchestra in Europe to be made up of majority Black and ethnically diverse musicians......' (album notes).
Harry Diplock Trio - Harry Diplock Trio And Friends
(self release) - Released: 20th October 2023
Harry Diplock (guitar); Remi Oswald (guitar); Pete Thomas (double bass); Featuring guests: Giacomo Smith (clarinet); Joe Webb (piano); Matt Holborn (violin); Kourosh Kanani (guitar)
'Originally starting his journey from Devon to London in 2012 as a guitar builder, Harry soon became part of the UK jazz scene where his love of improvisation took over. Now at the forefront of Django Reinhardt inspired jazz in the UK and co-founder of the London Django Collective, Harry has played all over Europe at venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, Pizza Express Soho Jazz Club, Le Duc des Lombards, Torino Jazz Club, Royal Albert Hall and 606 Jazz Club. Harry is also an educator in the style and regularly hosts various workshops and courses at jazz festivals and has shared the stage with some of the best in the scene including Antoine Boyer, Paulus Schafer, Olli Soikelli, Fanou Torracinta, Giacomo Smith, Mathieu Chatelain and Joe Webb.' (album notes)
John Pope Quintet - Citrinitas
(Improvised Music Recordings) - Released: 6th October 2023
John Pope (double bass, percussion); Jamie Stockbridge (alto, baritone saxophones);Faye MacCalman (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Graham Hardy (trumpet, flugelhorn); Johnny Hunter (drum kit, Glockenspiel)
'Citrinitas is the second album from John Pope’s award-winning quintet ....... The name ‘Citrinitas’ comes from the mysterious alchemy of ‘yellowing’ that occurs in compounds, metals, ores, and other substrates and is appropriate as there are many subtleties that change within the music as the tracks develop. From the stellar opener ‘Free Spin’ with its big statement paraphrases and solos to the sensitive exploration of ‘Through The Earth’. All the pieces are new and captured as the quintet performed in Pope’s native Newcastle upon Tyne. Sometimes fiery with unleashed energy and at others swinging, mysterious, and emotive, the music traverses a range of atmospheres, and emotions, the alchemy between the music and musicians serving to create something new. 'The tracks represent a collection of music with spontaneous improvisation around compositional elements at its heart. ‘Citrinitas’ was conceived as a project to explore the potential of recording in performance, and a celebration of community and collaboration..........' (album notes)
Pete Allen Jazz Band - 45th Anniversary Album
(Upbeat Recordings) - Released: 13th October 2023
Pete Allen (clarinet, sax, vocals, banjo), Roger Marks (trombone), Chris Hodgkins (trumpet), James Clemas (keyboard, vocals), Dave Hanratty (bass), Jim Newton (drums)
“I cannot believe that I’ve been leading my band for 45 years! It was on the 1st of October 1978 that my Dad, who played banjo and guitar, and I agreed we should have a go and join the professional ranks of jazz. We invited four other talented musicians to join us – Campbell Burnap trombone, John Armatage drums, Janusz Carmello trumpet, and Tony Bagot bass. At that time we were playing a weekly residency at the Old Wagon and amp; Horses in Newbury’s marketplace but extra gigs were fast filling up the diary as we were prepared to travel the UK to play our kind style of happy jazz! We attracted capacity audiences throughout the clubs and festivals and I must admit our appearances on the BBC popular lunchtime magazine programme ‘Pebble Mill at One’ along with regular plays on BBC Radio Two certainly helped to achieve this. I shall never forget two conversations I had with Kenny Ball. On the first one, he gave me six months but then congratulated me some 30 years later having made a name for myself – without hit records. In those early years, we travelled in an old Ford Transit minibus which Dad had rescued from the scrap yard and put a reconditioned engine under the bonnet. However, after playing a three-week tour of Germany in February 1979 it gave up the ghost as we limped home on three cylinders........." (Pete Allen)
Jim Rattigan - Duos
(Three Worlds Records) - Released: 20th October 2023 [3 CDs]
Jim Rattigan (French horn); Ivo Neame (piano); Nick Costley-White (guitar); Hans Kollder (piano)
'A list of Jim Rattigan’s accomplishments would fill pages, just as his music fills the air with the sheer joy of creativity. One of the world’s foremost exponents of the French horn, he is also one of the few to have convincingly adapted it to jazz. In a career spanning over forty years he’s played in ensembles of every conceivable size and sort, but never had the opportunity to show what the French Horn is capable of in those most stripped-back, quintessential jazz formats: the duo record and the Standards album. The time had come to explore this most demanding but rewarding setting, allowing the full range and versatility of the horn to shine. Rattigan had three collaborators in mind, and set up some informal playing sessions “I said I’ll pop over and we’ll have a play - I fancy playing some standards!” but the creative sparks were soon flying, and the project developed organically until Jim found himself taking three distinct approaches to the initial idea. With pianist Ivo Neame, the playing soon morphed into far-reaching investigations into some unusual re-arrangements and original sketches by both players. With guitarist Nick Costley-White, both players reveled in finding new inspiration within the familiar joys of the Great American Songbook. Finally, pianist/bandleader Hans Koller’s deep knowledge of the canon of fellow pianist Thelonious Monk prompted a deep dive into of some of his key compositions. First came 'Dialogues', the collaboration with Ivo Neame. “I hadn’t played much with Ivo before this project. But I’ve always loved his playing - We set up in his own studio, Wonderland Studio, so there were no time limits, and the album morphed into something else as we played.” The album started with a fortuitous coincidence - Jim wanted to play Wayne Shorter’s ‘Infant Eyes’ and Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Chelsea Bridge’, and Ivo already had his own strikingly original arrangements of those tunes ‘We tried them - they’re challenging, and I love a challenge - and they felt good on the horn!”.......... (album notes).
Eddie Henderson - Witness To History
(Smoke Sessions Records Records) - Released: 15th September 2023
Eddie Henderson (trumpet); Donald Harrison (alto saxophone); George Cables (piano & Fender Rhodes); Gerald Cannon (bass); Lenny White (drums); Mike Clark (drums on "Scorpio Rising")
'Trumpet legend Dr. Eddie Henderson celebrates the 50th anniversary of his debut album with a stunning new recording, WITNESS TO HISTORY, reflecting on his musical evolution with pianist George Cables, saxophonist Donald Harrison, bassist Gerald Cannon and drummers Lenny White and Mike Clark. If it hadn’t already been used for a 1950s television series, I LED THREE LIVES might have been an ideal title for the upcoming documentary about Eddie Henderson, who would be a fascinating subject in any one of those lives: as a medical doctor, as a pioneering figure skater, and of course as a legendary jazz musician. As it is, the film is scheduled to premiere on PBS in 2024 under the equally apt title of DR. EDDIE HENDERSON: UNCOMMON GENIUS........ (album notes)
Kris Davis - Diatom Ribbons Live At The Village Vanguard
(Pyroclastic Records) - Released: 1st September 2023
Kris Davis (piano, prepared piano, arturia microfreak synthesizer); Terri Lyne Carrington (drums); Val Jeanty (turntables, electronics); Julian Lage (electric guitar); Trevor Dunn (electric bass, double bass)
'All compositions by Kris Davis except “Alice in the Congo” by Ronald Shannon Jackson, “The Dancer” by Geri Allen, and “Dolores” by Wayne Shorter. All arrangements by Kris Davis. “Nine Hats” references “Hat and Beard” by Eric Dolphy and “Study No.9 for Player Piano” by Conlon Nancarrow. “VW” features a 1991 interview with Sun Ra by Jay Green on KPFA’s “Straight No Chaser.” “Bird Call Blues” includes the voices of Olivier Messiaen and Paul Bley and is influenced by Messiaen’s “Petites Esquisses D’Oiseaux.” “Parasitic Hunter” includes the voice of Karlheinz Stockhausen speaking about ‘Intuitive Music’ in a 1972 lecture.' (album notes)
Kurt Elling - SuperBlue : The Iridescent Spree
(Edition Records) - Released: 15th September 2023
Kurt Elling (voice); Charlie Hunter (hybrid guitar); DJ Harrison (keyboards); Corey Fonville (drums); Guest Personnel - Elena Pinderhughes (flute on “Black Crow”); Huntertones Horns: (on “Naughty Number Nine”, “Bounce It” and “Not Here / Not Now”)
Jon Lampley (trumpet); Dan White (saxophone & horn arrangements); Chris Ott (trombone)
'SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree is the highly anticipated followup to the 2021 GRAMMY nominated eponymous album, by genre-bending trailblazers Kurt Elling & Charlie Hunter. Joining forces with multi-instrumentalist duo drummer Corey Fonville and bassist-keyboardist DJ Harrison (of Richmond, VA-based jazz-funk fusion quintet Butcher Brown) for a kaleidoscopic collection of new songs, surprising covers, and dynamic reinventions, these are all animated by crafty production, crack musicianship, and Elling’s instantly identifiable vocal prowess. If the first album was a somewhat radical departure for Elling, SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree is more of an exquisite progression upon the template. Equally informed by R&B, neo-soul, classic pop, psychedelic poetry, rowdy funk, and of course jazz in all its many guises, songs like the ebullient, anthemic “Freeman Square” and the simmering, brass-blasted “Not Here/Not Now” are layered with Elling’s inventive lyricism, their supple swing and rhythmic elasticity rife with wit, pathos, and a wry sense of the human experience............ (album notes)
Todd Sickafoose - Bear Proof
(Secret Hatch Records) - Released: 29th September 2023
Ben Goldberg (clarinet); Kirk Knuffke (cornet); Jenny Scheinman (violin); Adam Levy (guitar); Erik Deutsch (piano); Rob Reisch: (accordion); Todd Sickafoose (bass); Allison Miller (drums).
'62 minutes of music for 8 musicians. Intended to be performed straight-through in a concert, it’s captured here “live” in the studio, recorded as one continuous take. We fixed a few notes afterward – including a moment somewhere in the first half where Jenny dropped her bow, and somewhere in the second where I dropped mine. Otherwise, this is exactly how that 62 minutes sounded. A raise of the glass to Adam Muñoz for keeping the tape rolling without interruption at Fantasy Studios (Berkeley, California); and for that matter, to Derk Richardson – who, the night before, encouraged us to play the whole thing live on his KPFA radio program ‘The Hear and Now’. He sat amongst us, lost in his headphones, and chose quiet moments to grin and whisper the requisite station identification – a detail that added to the sense of mischief. The fact that Fantasy has since shuttered its doors, and Derk has retired his long-running show, is a sign that it’s taken us a few years to release this album. And noting these cultural disappearances is apt because, if you’d like, BEAR PROOF can also be: A surreal meditation on BOOM and BUST. Is music perhaps better than words for talking about high times and utter ruin? In California, there’s still a bridge that spells out GOLD HERE. Let these nine song titles lead you in that direction, if you wish' (album notes).
Europe and Elsewhere
Wolfgang Muthspiel - Dance Of The Elders
(ECM Records) - Released: 29th September 2023
Wolfgang Muthspiel (guitar); Scott Colley (double bass); Brian Blade (drums).
'Wolfgang Muthspiel and his trio with Scott Colley on bass and Brian Blade on drums reaches a new creative peak on Dance of the Elders – the group’s follow-up up to the much lauded Angular Blues, which The Times called a “quietly impressive album”. Here Wolfgang’s successful stride continues, with his unique compositional signature on the one hand and the particularly vibrant interchanges with his trio colleagues on the other. The guitarist’s writing and approach to jazz is heavily folk-induced but equally inspired by classical music – both aspects are presented clearly throughout the album. Brian’s floating percussive injections and Scott’s nimble counterpoint on bass complement Wolfgang’s acoustic and electric playing in fluid interplay over intricate polyrhythms and adventurous harmonic landscapes.' (album notes)
Phillip Johnston & The Greasy Chicken Orchestra - I Cakewalked With A Zombie
(Earshift Music) - Released: 14th July 2023
Phillip Johnston (soprano sax); Peter Farrar (alto sax); Tim Clarkson (tenor sax); Jim Loughnan (baritone sax); Peter Dasent ( piano);
Tim Rollinson (guitar, banjo); James Greening (sousaphone); Nic Cecire (drums)
'Sydney-based saxophonist/composer and New York expat Phillip Johnston leads the 8-piece miniature repertory ensemble, The Greasy Chicken Orchestra, through innovative arrangements of jazz of the 1920s and 1930s, as well as his original music reflecting that musical language on their new release, I Cakewalked With a Zombie. This long-evolving project continues Johnston’s exploration of the history of orchestration and composition-focussed ensembles, such as The Microscopic Septet, Big Trouble, and The Silent Six. The group consists of a four-saxophone front line and rhythm section, featuring leading jazz artists from Sydney. The music leaves room for individual expression of its unique soloists and aims to express a combination of freedom and discipline, a love of jazz history and creativity, and the infectious rhythm, mystery and sheer joy of the jazz of this era ..........' (album notes).
Blicher Hemmer Gadd - It will be alright
(C-Nut Records) - Released: 1st September 2023
Michael Blicher (tenor sax); Dan Hemmer (organ); Steve Gadd (drums)
'Creating this album was an immense challenge. After recording the first tracks live, lock-down hit, and for almost three years, it was impossible for us to get together to record. Instead, we met online to work on the music and plan how to finish the album. We ultimately decided that "It Will Be Alright" should include both some amazing live tracks that capture the excitement and energy of our live performances around Europe, as well as two special lockdown-songs recorded in Michael's intimate garden-studio in Copenhagen just after the world began to reopen. We poured our hearts and souls into this music and hope that you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed creating it. Thank you for listening and supporting us through bandcamp.' (album notres)
Espen Berg - The Hamar Concert
(NXN Recordings) - Released: 13rd November 2023
Espen Berg (piano)
'Following the internationally acclaimed improvised solo piano album The Trondheim Concert and the digital album release The Nidaros Concert, NXN Recordings now release The Hamar Concert recorded in front of a live audience at The Hamar Concert Hall. Ranging from the silent and melodic, to the epic and technically brilliant, Espen Berg continues to prove he is a master of improvised piano music.' (album notes)
Phil Woods - Rights Of Swing (Remastered)
(Candid Records) - Released: 2023
Phil Woods (alto sax); Benny Bailey (trumpet); Curtis Fuller, Willie Dennis (trombone); Julius Watkins (French horn); Sahib Shihab (bass); Tommy Flanagan (piano); Buddy Catlett (bass); Osie Johnson (drums)
'When he first came on the scene, Phil Woods was often referred to as "The New Bird," in a nod to the legendary Charlie Parker - A testament to his genius on the saxophone to be sure. But while obviously indebted to Parker - as all modern jazz saxophonists of a certain era were - there is no question that Phil Woods was an original. After earning a degree in music from Juilliard in the early 1950's, Woods found himself in the orbit of the great Quincy Jones. At Jones' invitation Woods joined Dizzy Gillespie's infamous Jazz Ambassadors - a tour sponsored by the US State Department as part of a global cultural diplomacy initiative - and subsequently became a member of Jones' own touring band. This recording, his 9th album as a band leader, consists entirely of Woods' five-part Rights of Swing Suite. An ambitious large-scale composition based solidly on jazz traditions. A culmination of the influences the then 30 year artist had absorbed. Arguably considered one of Woods finest recordings, the record features a stellar section made up of Wood's fellow Quincy Jones band members. (It should be noted that these same musicians, for the most part, are also the section on Benny Bailey's Candid Records recording, Big Brass, recorded a a few months prior in November of 1960). Recorded at the Nola Penthouse Studios in New Your City on two dates in January and February of 1961, and conducted by Quincy Jones.' (album notes)
Flip Phillips - The Clef Years : Classic Albums1952-56
(Acrobat Records) - Released: 2023 [3 CD Box Set]
Flip Phillips (tenor sax) with various personnel including Howard McGhee, Billy Butyterfield, Sweets Edison, Roy Edldridge (trumpet); Bennie Green, Bill Harris, Kai Winding (trombone); Buddy DeFranco (clarinet); Sonny Criss (alto sax); Cecil Payne (baritone sax); Hank Jones, Lou Levy, Oscar Peterson (piano); Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis (guitar), Ray Brown, Gene Ramey (bass); Buddy Rich, Jo Jones, Max Roach (drums)
'Flip Phillips was a tenor saxophonist who came to the fore in the post-war era playing with the bands of Woody Herman, Red Norvo, Benny Goodman and Frankie Newton, and was perhaps most famously associated with Norman Granz’ Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts in the late ‘40s and into the 1950s. In the early 1950s he recorded a string of sessions for Norman Granz, leading groups that comprised many different line-ups, with most of the titles coming out a succession of albums on Granz’ Clef label during this era, and being mixed and matched on different LP releases during that time. This great-value 58-track 3-CD collection comprises most of the titles he recorded for Granz at these sessions, mostly presented in the order and format they were released on the albums “Flip Phillips Quartet”, “Flip Phillips Collates Vols. 1 & 2”, “Jumping Moods”, “Flip Phillips & Buddy Rich Trio”, “Flip Phillips Quintet (Rock With Flip)”, and the re-issue packages “Flip Wails”, “Swingin’ With Flip Phillips” and “Flip”. It features performances with some of the great names of the era - Oscar Peterson, Charlie Shavers, Barney Kessel, Ray Brown, Howard McGhee, Alvin Stoller, Buddy Rich, Hank Jones, Herb Ellis, Freddie Green, Max Roach and more – and as a bonus includes a ‘live’ jam session version of “Stompin’ At The Savoy Pt. 1”. It’s a great showcase for Flip Phillips at probably the zenith of his career.' (album notes)
Buddy Rich - Trios
(Lightyear Records) - Released: 2023
Buddy Rich (drums); Barry Kiener (piano); John Burr, Tom Warrington (bass)
'Buddy Rich - "Trios" - When Buddy Rich and his Killer Force Band were at their peak, Buddy began to feature a trio segment, often twice a night. Buddy would exclusively use brushes rather than sticks, even in his drum solos. Young prodigy pianist Barry Kiener, who soon sadly died of an accidental overdose at the age of 30 (on Buddy's tour bus), was the magnificent lead instrument. Virtuoso bassist Jon Burr completed the trio on most of the songs. These never-before released recordings are a true collector's item.' (album notes)
Thelonious Monk - The Classic Quartet
(Candid Records) - Released: 2023
Thelonious Monk (piano); Charlie Rouse (tenor sax); Butch Warren (bass); Frankie Dunlop (drums)
'At the time of this recording, Thelonious Monk was at both a creative and critical peak - He had recently signed with Columbia Records, notably one of the biggest jazz labels in the world at the time, and the following year became the third jazz musician in history to appear on the cover of Time Magazine. The Classic Quartet is comprised of Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, Butch Warren on bass, and Frankie Dunlop on drums. The recording captures what is undoubtedly one of the very best sets of the era. The songs, classic Monk repertoire, will be familiar to any Monk fan. That includes what is by all accounts an exceptional version of one of Monk's favorite standards, "Just A Gigolo." This recording is the audio portion of a television show recorded in Tokyo during Monk's 1963 tour of Japan. Not to be confused with the live album of that same 1963 tour, Monk In Tokyo, released on Columbia Records. It also should be noted that the recordings here were previously released as Thelonious Monk 1963 Japan, at various times, by various labels. This version has been remastered by Award Winning Engineer Bernie Grundman. It is the first time this album has been released on vinyl in over 35 years.' (album notes)